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Cablegate: Yucatan Maquiladora Industry Cautious About Its Future

VZCZCXRO6997
RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHRD #0222 3021823
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281823Z OCT 08
FM AMCONSUL MERIDA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4658
INFO RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 1229
RUEHXC/ALL USCONS MEXICO
RUEHRD/AMCONSUL MERIDA 1992

UNCLAS MERIDA 000222

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EIND ETRD PGOV MX
SUBJECT: YUCATAN MAQUILADORA INDUSTRY CAUTIOUS ABOUT ITS FUTURE

1. (SBU) Summary. Approximately 200 leaders of Yucatan's
business community gathered in Merida on October 23rd to
celebrate the 21st anniversary of the Maquiladora Association
and 26 years of maquiladora activity in the state. Business
leaders report already feeling the pinch of the U.S. economy's
downturn. End Summary.
2. (U) There are 32 active maquiladoras in the State of
Yucatan, with approximately 20,000 employees. About half of the
factories are geographically centered around the state capital
of Merida while the others provide key economic support to
smaller towns. According to the association, these companies
export annually to the U.S. market goods valued at approximately
300,000,000 Mexican pesos. The companies fall into three
principal product sectors: clothing manufacturing; low to
mid-range jewelry production; and manufacturing of dental
implements, devices, and tools. The jewelry and dental
companies benefit from easy and relatively low cost shipping to
the USA. Most of the clothing manufactured by Yucatan-based
maquiladoras is shipped by sea from the Port of Progresso to
Florida for markets on the Eastern Seaboard.
3. (U) At their annual dinner, the head of Yucatan's
Maquiladora Association and industry representatives celebrated
21 years as an organization and looked backwards to past
successes. The current U.S. economic downturn is clearly having
a negative affect on the industry. Most hard hit appears to be
the jewelry sector with industry leaders easily conceding that
in a period of economic downturn, luxury items are cut first.
Dental industry representatives report less turmoil. And
clothing manufacturers report a mixed picture. Ganzo Azul, a
company manufacturing uniforms for law enforcement officers
indicates that business is steady. In contrast, companies
manufacturing clothing for large scale retailers report
decreased orders for the holiday season and corresponding cuts
in production, staffing, and income.
4. (U) All sectors report some impact from increased
transportation costs. However, they remain hopeful that their
relative geographic proximity the U.S. market provides a
sufficient cost advantage over other production centers,
particularly those located in Asia.
5. (SBU) Comment. Although Yucatan based maquiladoras have
been suffering over the last several years from lower labor
costs in other countries (principally Central American and
China), they have remained optimistic that their geographic
proximity to U.S. markets and the relative security of the
peninsula would improve their competitive advantage. The U.S.
economic downturn appears to have had a more rapid effect on
production levels and schedules than was anticipated. Pessimism
in certain sectors is spreading. End comment.

MARTIN

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